Hour 10 - 11 - Steep approaches, normal approaches and a Set-Down breakthrough!
Well, I skipped posting an entry for my last lesson, so I'll cover it in this one. Yes, it's a "two-fer".
My previous lesson, I worked on set-downs and patterns and did two more Max Power Take-offs. I'm still not fully confident and alone on the controls with the max power T/Os but, I'm getting there. We flew to another small airport (very small) and practiced traffic patterns there. I have to admit that I wasn't great at locating the landing strip and I was basically just taking instructions on when to turn, climb to pattern alt, descend you're too high, etc. I was a bit overwhelmed during that lesson for some reason and it showed. Not sure why I was so out of whack, but I actually opted to not take a run around the pattern at my home airport because my stress/frustration level was getting a bit high. That was hour 9.2-10 (I made a mistake in my calculations before and counted some sim time towards total time - not valid - and am now counting TT and not just time towards the rating).
Now, hours 10-11.1. . .
Different CFI as my primary is out on commercial work part of this week. There was only 4kts of wind today and it was clear skies. We stayed local and worked on traffic patterns (I did much better by just cross-checking the instruments and focusing on feel/view for my cues on if I was accelerating, climbing, etc - this was one thing I definitely got out of the last lesson from my primary and it made a big difference). Then we worked on some steep approaches. I'm still overcontrolling and it was cool to realize that, if I've got my angle correct and airspeed correct, there's really not much I need to do on the cyclic or collective to maintain the correct approach.
I still need quite a bit of work though before they're solid, but I can see it coming together and feel more comfortable with each attempt.
O.k. I've had problems with my set-downs. Pick-ups are good unless I rush it (which I sometimes do) but, in general, they pretty good. However, I was always chasing power and control on my set-downs. I knew I was over-controlling and, as a result, getting very tense and over-controlling even more. It was a vicious cycle. My aggressive collective work demanded even more pedal and cyclic adjustments and I would lose my hover control.
So, the breakthrough wasn't learning to hover during massive power and attitude/altitude adjustments (I know, you're surprised - not!). The breakthrough was the realization of just how little collective movement was needed to get the descent rate from my stable hover in order to settle with control and in stages. Before I was moving the collective about a millimeter down and settling too fast and subsequently pulling up on the collective, etc, etc. My CFI was feeling along and had me try just putting a bit of pressure on the collective but while trying to keep it light enough not to move the collective.
That was it. Just a tad of pressure and no discernible movement had me settling slowly, stabilizing at hover and then doing the same process repeatedly until I contacted the ground (oh, so gently). With the small pressure, I was no longer fighting to maintain hover and power.
I could have chased set-downs for months without realizing what I was doing wrong when it's really so simple, duh! Of course, now it seems simple, but before I was frustrating myself and never thought to start with my smallest pressure and just see what it took to initiate the descent from hover. Many thanks the my stand-in CFI for helping me out with this. I'm confident now in both set-downs and pick-ups which is a big step forward for me.
Anyway, that's it for now. My next lesson is on Saturday so, I'll be updating this blog again a day or two afterwards.
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